Aerial Landfill Monitoring

Subsurface Fire Detection


There are two types of landfill fires. Above ground or surface fires usually occur on the landfill working face. The fire is usually easily discovered and extinguished by suffocation and / or removing the source of combustion. If ignored, or undiscovered, the fire can become large and dangerous. Underground or subsurface fires usually start out small and localised. If left unattended, or undiscovered, the fire can spread and become extremely difficult to extinguish. As uncontrolled fires become larger the potential for toxic emissions also becomes larger.

Uaviation was contracted by our client to survey their landfill site with the objective to identify and map the extent of sub-surface fires, map the site, and search for any escaping leachate into the neighbouring river. It was previously known that the subject site was prone to fires and that it was likely that one was currently active.

Uaviation’s landfill thermography team used HD thermal and visual cameras to survey the entire site within an hour, and delivered thermal and visual maps for inspection, and 3D models as a baseline 3D dataset for the site. All this was delivered back to the client along with a brief report within two business days.

The survey revealed the location of a subsurface fire and predicted from the subsequent surface heating, that the fire was likely deep within the landfill but localised to that immediate location. This was then used to inform fire suppressant strategies. No leachate was identified entering the neighbouring river.


  • Date : 7 June, 2019